The New York Public Library Literature Companion
by the Staff of The New York Public Library
Hardcover Edition, Out of Print, Limited Availability
This reference book is years old, but still useful.
I wish The New York Public Library would publish an updated edition of this literature companion of theirs. The one I’ve been using came out in 2001, but it does still serve as a useful reference.
This book provides biographies of major authors and of other influential figures, such as biographers, critics, editors, publishers, thinkers and translators. There are one-paragraph summaries of major literary works and characters, as well as lists of book awards and annual winners (Nobel, Pulitzer, Booker, Whitbread, Prix Goncourt, Hugo, Nebula, etc.).
Other sections I find useful:
- Dictionary of Literature (terms, styles, movements, genres)
- Chronology of World Literature (from the invention of writing to the year 2000)
- Influential Literary Periodicals
- Variations (works of literature that have been adapted into other media — films, TV miniseries…)
Breaking the monotony of a reference work, scattered throughout are short historical and anecdotal essays, quotations and excerpts, and quizzes.
DISCOURSES ON THE SOBER LIFE
How To Live 100 Years
Being the Personal Narrative of Luigi Cornaro (1467-1566 AD)
In 1883, an edition of Cornaro’s Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life was published in New York with introduction and notes by Silvester Graham.